How to Make Money
The Bible says a TON about money. Join us for Part 1 of Austin’s 2-part series on how the Bible tells us to make it and use money.
Money, Part 1: How To Make It
In church life we are guilty of making money out to be evil. But as we just found out in 1st John, money nor any other created thing is of itself evil. Matter and material are not evil. it’s just objects and material. they have no moral value whatsoever.
However, the Bible clearly says that to love anything more than God is evil. That is the ultimate evil. So we could say to love money more than God is evil. That’s easy!!!
BUT interestingly the Bible doesn’t stop there. It goes MUCH further when it comes to money.
Now before I explain what I mean, let me remind you that we are called to love others. So God doesn’t expect us to only and exclusively love Him. We actually learned in 1st John that if you don’t love others then you don’t love God or even know Him.
God expects us to not just love Him. We are commanded to love others. So, God is not just not intimidated if He’s not the only one we love. He demands that He not be the only one we love.
But, even though we are called to love and serve one another, Jesus made it real clear that the principle and expectation does not include money. Jesus was real clear:
You cannot serve God and money. (Matthew 6:24)
Why is that? Well...
10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. (1 Timothy 6:10)
If you love and serve money, you will wander away from loving and serving God and destroy yourself! It is literally a pathway to self destruction! A pathway of foolish decisions that will wreck your life.
So, this series is not about saying money is evil and thus we shouldn't have anything to do with it. Jesus talked about it a lot and the Bible has much to say about it -- both in how we should make it and spend it (next weeks sermon!).
Nor is this one of those prosperity Gospel sermons about sending some preacher your money. (Which FYI only get’s the preacher rich!) That if you aren't giving it all to some preacher you are somehow failing God.
But, rather, this is a series about understanding Money from a Biblical perspective. In so doing, we understand how the Bible directs us to get it, make it, spend it and use it.
So let’s begin with answering this question.
What is money?
Money is a measurable way to represent and transfer value.
What do I mean by that? Well, for instance, you value your time and talent so you expect to receive something of equal or greater value in return if you give your time and talent to somebody. We call that work.
So you take your time and talent and you work for somebody else with it. You are literally giving it to them.
So for instance, let’s say you give it to a guy who owns a widget company to help him make widgets. In return for helping him make those widgets you expect him to give you something that represents how valuable your time and talent was in helping him make those widgets.
And listen, how the widget maker VALUES the time and/or talent you give him will determine how much VALUE he is willing to transfer to you.
If you give a lot of time doing something that requires little talent then what you are giving is valuable but it is easily replaceable so the widget maker is not going to transfer a lot of VALUE to you. However, if what you do requires a lot of talent that is not easily replaceable, then the widget maker is going to highly value your investment of your talent and thus give you an amount of money that represents that VALUE.
So, money itself has no value. But it represents value. It's a certificate of value that allows us to transfer it to others in a measurable way. It has a number on it that gives us a fixed point to consider if it is valuable enough to give or receiver for what we are going to give or receive.
This is why it’s so important to understand how we are to make money and spend money. Because what we are talking about is not money at all. What we are really talking about is how we are TAKING THE VALUE of our life and giving it to others.
Money is only a symbol of that exchange - a certificate of proof that we exchanged it. But what we are literally giving away is our life! So, it is VITAL that we understand how God has made us to do that.
What does the Bible say about giving away our time and talent to receive value from others (work)? That is, how should we go about “earning” money without compromising our love for God and others? Next week, we are going to look at how we can use and spend it without compromising our love for God.
There are 3 basic Biblical principles we need to know about work and making money.
The 1st basic Biblical principle we need to know about work and making money is that...
God made work as a way for us to experience value.
All of creation works. All of creation produces. It has to in order to survive.
But nothing works and produces like mankind. From the technology mankind has made to the artistic creativity of mankind. Nothing on the planet can make and create like mankind.
It's no surprise. Mankind was created in GOD’s image -- and God is the ULTIMATE worker!
Listen to the character and nature of God as a worker (including how God experienced joy/value in His work) and thus how we are made to do the same thing.
26 Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.
Referencing the trinity for one. Second, referencing the soul.
Mankind is made with eternal life. God breathed life into man. This is very a different creation than anything else. He gave man eternal life, made man in his image: spiritual and eternal. The New Testament declares that man will either dwell eternally with God (heaven) or enterally without God (hell). But, man will eternally dwell!
But, there’s a third thing God did that makes us in His image. He made and assigned us WORK. Watch this:
And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth."
Note that God made mankind in His image. In so doing, He put mankind in charge of stuff. Not to be in charge of God, but under God’s authority. He made man “LIKE” Him. Not the same, but LIKE.
He gave man authority and dominion. But watch this: how did God feel about doing this work of creating man? Well...
31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. (Genesis 1:26-31)
So God looked at his creation and smiled. He didn’t find you in it because He has eternal love and joy in and of Himself. But, He experienced joy in it. It was VERY GOOD! It pleased God to see His work.
Later in Genesis 2:15 we read this...
15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. (Genesis 2:15)
So, what can we learn from this?
Giving mankind dominion is not simply assigning a “privilege” to mankind, but it necessarily included assigning mankind a “job.” And in Genesis 2 we see Adam doing that job: naming and managing creation, having dominion over it, and as such accomplishing stuff. Doing things he was made to do! And in so doing it we see Adam was experiencing the value of accomplishing the work God made him to do!
Just like God, Adam wasn’t finding his joy in work, (it was in knowing GOD!) but he was certainly experiencing it.
Sin entered the world!
After the fall, mankind began to get that backwards. Man started replacing the value of knowing God with the value of his work and accomplishment. But, it doesn’t change the fact that PRE-FALL being made in the image of God means, just like God, we were made to experience joy and value in work.
If we treat work correctly it can and should be a place where we EXPERIENCE value and joy.
Ok. Now that leads us to the 2nd basic Biblical principle we need to know about work and making money.
God expects us to work hard and with excellence.
Let me walk you through some Scriptures that point us to this Biblical work ethic. As I do, know this. There are those who physically can not work in a way that makes money. They can work in ways that matter to others and to Jesus but not in way that is able to produce money. That doesn’t lessen what they do.
As family members of those who can’t physically work and as community, we need to make sure those who can’t work are provided for. If you don’t believe that then you may not know Jesus.
But with that said, listen to work ethic the Bible describes in the context of making money.
4 The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied. (Proverbs 13:4)
23 In all toil (hard work) there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty. (Proverbs 14:23)
16 She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. 17She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. 18 She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night. (Proverbs 31:16)
Proverbs 31 is all about a wise successful woman. So, this implies a high level of wisdom, excellence and success in her business dealings. She is wise to see the investment, excellent in her strategy. and relentless in her pursuit to make it work.
6 It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. (2 Timothy 2:6)
Paul is encouraging Timothy in his focus and work in ministry and uses this proverb as a way to encourage him in it. The key here is that it is understood that it’s not the farmer who gets to enjoy his crops, but the hard working one.
The one who is wise, excellent and busts his butt gets the JOY of the benefit of his labor.
Bondservants (people under contract to work for somebody else) obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. (Colossians 3:22-23)
More on this in a second, but you need to make sure this stuck in your head. God honors his kids that work hard and with excellence out of a love FOR and respect of HIM!
Put a marker there in your head because I’m going to come back to it in just a second. But first let me read you one last passage.
10 For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.
Is able, but won’t. Don't help him! Specifically Paul is speaking to people in the church acting this way and for the church to not help them. He writes...
11 For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies.
Causing trouble in the church! You got too much time on your hands with nothing to do so you end up meddling in stuff and creating problems. Look at what Paul tells these lazy trouble makers to do.
12 Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living. (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12)
So what we see in both the Colossians and Thessalonians passages is that there is a direct link between how we work and our worship of God as well as the practical and tangible testimony we have of God to the world.
Why? Well, remember when you work hard and with excellence you are giving VALUE to your employer AND everybody else you are working with. If your in the boat pulling the oar with everything you got, the guy pulling it with you is getting value from that because he is not having to pull what you are pulling! This creates an awesome relationship in your FAMILY -- both with your employer and with the people you are working with.
How you do your work has massive implications on whether or not your customers, employees, employer, or peers at work want to hear what you have to say. If they VALUE you because you bring VALUE to them, then there is a strong likelihood you they will value what you have to say about JESUS as well.
Giving your all in that context creates credibility. When you brag on how Jesus gave us everything He had and why it's totally rational for God to expect us to surrender our lives to HIM. To give HIM ALL of ourselves, to LOVE HIM more than anybody or anything.
This isn’t all about careers. There are some who are physically unable to have a career of any kind. But, their love and support of those supporting them is how they give value for the value they are being given.
Stay at home moms or dads don’t get a paycheck for their work. But, they are giving value to the family as they manage the house and facilitate literally life for everybody else in the household. However, if your life and efforts in life are an inexcusable burden on everybody because you take value from others without giving value, then you are functioning as a thief. It's hard for a thief to respond with, “let me tell you about Jesus!” and have people actually take them seriously.
The 3rd basic Biblical principle we need to know about work and making money:
God holds us accountable to work ethically!
First turn over to Colossians …
1 Masters, treat your slaves justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven. (Colossians 4:1)
IMPORTANT: This is not biblical justification of slavery!
Most people, including doctors and lawyers, were “slaves.” They were under contract.
There were three forms of slavery in ancient times in the middle east.
- Nations who were conquered and enslaved in some fashion as a part of the consequence of losing,
- People who were convicted of crimes sentenced to the hardcore labor like digging rocks out of the quary
- Then there was most people. People who contracted themselves to be employed for a skill they had.
I.E.: doctors, lawyers, tutors, teachers, business managers, accountants, skilled tradesman, and the list goes on. So, don’t jump to some crazy conclusion here. The takeaway this text intends is this:
Colossians 4:1 emphasizes the reminder that God is the one ultimately one who has dominion and He gave that responsibility to us. He is the author of authority and delegates it down.
But, what is delegated down is accounted for up! If God gave the responsibility of you to oversee somebody, whether that’s a child you are raising or and a life group you lead or a employee you hire, then you need know that he is going to hold you accountable for how you managed, cared for and oversaw that which He placed you over.
But, second, it's not just the ethics of those in authority that matter to God, but everybody. Listen to these two passages:
5Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God. (1 Corinthians 4:5)
10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. (2 Corinthians 5:10)
ALL of us will stand before God one day. He is going to expose everything we did and (did you notice the 1st Corinthians passage) expose WHY we did it.
God will not reward anything we did that was not led by Him for us to do nor that we did out of sinful motives. Nor something He called and gifted us to do that we hijacked and made all about ourselves.
So, God is going to judge us on everything we do. That includes the motives of our hearts on why we did it.
Understand. Even though we live in this world that separates the secular from the sacred (that is secular from religious), you need to know this may be how our society wants things to be, but it’s not How God is going to judge things.
He is going to judge every aspect of our lives. And that includes every aspect of how and why we earned our money.
Biblically, Christians are charged with working to make as much money as they need and are given the freedom to make as much as they can as long as it's achieved ethically and respectfully.
It has become awfully popular to demonize those who have been successful. But, listen. The Bible is full of people who were successful.
- The rich man who loaned his tomb for Jesus to be buried
- The wealthy who donated their houses as places for the church to gather
- The wealthy who supplied large amounts of money to advance the Gospel
- The powerful and influential people in the towns that Paul and others would travel to so that they could lead them to Jesus and in so doing influence large amounts of others with the Gospel as well.
We see God blessing people with huge success all over the Bible and using that success for His glory. It is only condemned by God when that success is achieved unethically or disrespectfully. So listen, church.
As Christians, as long as we are physically able, we are mandated to do things that make money so that we can supply for our own needs. But, we also have the freedom to make as much as we can. To be as successful as we want to try and be. As long as we do it ethically and respectfully, which means under the law of love -- love for our family, community and others!
In other words if you have no relationship with your family because you are trying to make as much money as you can then you are disrespecting your family. If you are destroying your community and other people's lives because you are deceptively and unethically trying to make as much money as you can, then you are not operating under the law of love and you are not honoring God. You are disobeying God.
But, if in love you are busting your butt to be as successful as you can, then know you have the freedom to do that just like. If you are busting your butt working hard and smart and out of that only able to make what your family needs to survive. Either way, you need to know that what you are doing is honoring the Lord and laying a wonderful foundation for the Gospel.
God meant for you to experience value in work, not find value in work, therefore, be honest about what you’re asking your work to do for you.
Many times I’ve heard from those who stay at home and manage the house while their spouse does the work that earns money. Sometimes they struggle to find value in what they do. They see what their spouse does as valuable, but what they do as not being valuable because it doesn’t pay for anything.
First let me just tell you that’s crazy. My wife does some things that help bring some money to our family, but by and large I’m the primary money person. However, her labor is what makes the world go around for us as a family. Talk about value!
But, if you are home manager and trying to FIND value in being a home manger, your frustration and sense of not finding value is ironically the same sense that the most successful CEO’s in America have when they try to FIND value in their labor. YOU CAN’T.
Well, you can. But, it blows away in the wind. You can’t hold on to it. It is momentary and fleeting and rises and falls with the tides.
But, when we find our VALUE in Christ:
- that God values us so much
- that He finds so much joy in us that He gladly gave His son to rescue us from the curse and redeem us
- that Jesus loves us so much
- that He has experiences so much value in us that He was willing to give HIS LIFE FOR us
that’s where you find value!
And when you find value then you have value to give. When you find value you value you have something to experience. When you find the enteral value of Jesus you can give all you got to your job, to loving your family, to serving your church and community.
You've got value to give when you find it in Christ because the value He gives is eternal.
Have you surrendered your life to Jesus? Are you a believer ignoring your value in Christ and trying to find it in your work?